I have to admit that sometimes I just don’t get it. I have spent over ten years squarely on the “cop side” of most every dispute. When the union wants to pressure the management, I have their back. When the city offers a terrible contract, I write letters. I am, pardon the cliche, a cop’s cop.
But I have to call B.S. when I see it. The Associated Press is reporting in this article that the New York City police union is suing to prevent mandatory alcohol breath testing after an officer fires their weapon. The union representative apparently sees no reason to subject his constituents to, “the humiliation and psychological trauma” of a mandatory breath test.
I have probably administered 500 of those things and I assure you the humiliation and trauma is no more than that experienced when blowing up a balloon. Arguably less, since balloons make you look so silly. I simply cannot fathom why a police officer who just shot or shot at someone would want to hide their sobriety status.
I did fashion some arguments in my head:
“First this, then what is next?”
“Vice officers are allowed to drink on duty!”
“The officer is being treated like a perp!”
Each of these provide tempting cover to duck away from the actual state of affairs. Certainly there is a slippery slope issue. The way you deal with that is to be watchful and call out the city when they go to far. This breath test isn’t the point of no return. Similarly, I understand that vice officers are allowed to drink on duty. The union’s duty here is to ensure language is placed in the policy to take care of them. And yes, the officer is being treated like a perp. Every cop in America knows they are a murder suspect the moment they make that fateful decision. That is why we have lawyers and unions and policies to protect us.
If modern police departments truly plan to earn the public trust that we so enthusiastically court, our transparency and level of disclosure will have to go considerably further than simply finding out whether an officer who just shot someone is drunk!